Suggestions for Class Reports
Synthesize current knowledge in a subject and provide your own perspective. A mere review
is insufficient, you must guide the reader towards the more important ideas/data and away from the
Abstract: Brief summary of important results.
Introduction: Overview of previous work and how your report fits in. Also include the purpose of your report.
Body: This includes your data
collection methods, analysis, and results; or for more descriptive reports it includes the literature survey.
Discussion: Examination of your findings compared to other similar situations.
Conclusions: Main results, importance of the study, recommendations for future work.
References: Use at least 5 primary references from journal articles. Secondary references, such as books, should be limited to the most general concepts. Tertiary references (newspaper or
magazine articles, and web pages) should be handled with care as they are not peer-reviewed by the science community. They should be kept to a minimum. For reference style, pick any scientific journal article and use their style. Include a copy of a list of the article references so I can verify the style used.
Citations: Cited references in the text must follow scientific practice. That is, (author, year), for two authors (author and author, year) and for 3 or more authors (author, et al., year). For example, (Newton, 1624), (Newton and Galileo, 1625), (Einstein, et al., 1915). The latter is for an article written by Einstein, Newton, and Galileo. In the references, all names are spelled out.
It is difficult to compose an outline for all varieties of reports so you may need to adapt this outline to your specific project.
The length of the report is variable and it is hard to say what length is expected because it depends on the quantity and quality
of material. Shortening the report where important information is left out is not good. Adding verbiage, fluff, and lots of figures to lengthen the report is not good and is transparent. (we've all tried it) A rough guide would be 10 pages not including references. Remember content is important and the grade will be largely based on content.
The reports are to be neat, typed in 12 point font, numbered pages and stapled. Unstapled reports will not be accepted. Inbed the figures and tables in the body of the report in locations just after where they are cited in the text. The style of the report, including references, will follow one of the main scientific journals you use.
ready guide, take a scientific journal article. Note how that paper is
structured, sections headings, and how the content flows. Note the
format of the figures, captions, and references. Pattern your paper after
this paper. Hopefully you won't pick a bad paper as a guide. If you
have any questions regarding the format or the quality of the paper you are
using as a guide, ask me. Include a copy of a few pages of a paper, including a page of references, that you patterned
your report. I hate to have to include this, but include page numbers!
Known problems: The most common problem with poor reports is the citations. Often a report will cite a few books (secondary source) and maybe a journal article or two (primary source) and it becomes very clear that the report is based on very little material. You must think of your report as something you would submit to a journal for publication. Please observe how scientific journal articles cite many previous works. It demonstrates a comprehensive knowledge of the topic and the fact that the important other previous works have considered in the preparation of the article. Without sufficient citations, the journal article (and your paper) is considered not well-researched and poorly founded on past advances and therefore its contribution to new knowledge is suspect.
The report can not rely on secondary sources, it must refer to primary sources. Primary sources delve into greater detail and are typically more current. Secondary sources are a summary of the subject from the author's perspective, you must synthesize the material your self from the primary sources.
Be forewarned, obtaining articles from interlibrary loan can be slow, so start early.
Occasionally, a paper will be submitted that is just poorly written. Please have someone else, particularly someone in class, read your manuscript over prior to submission. They should catch the major flaws. It can only help your grade.